Mac OS X for Windows Users


I'm actually kind of amazed there are so few "books": and other resources that help a Windows user navigate the Mac. In the dawn of time, I worked on a project that made Excel understandable to Lotus 1-2-3 users, but given there are just a few small things, I sometimes wonder why Apple just doesn't tweak a few settings to make things more friendly.

Anyway, here are my top 5 tips for Windows users using Mac OS X for the first time. In famous reverse order:

h4. Where the heck are all the Applications?

Most folks seem to figure out the toolbar on the bottom of OS X, but where all all the applications? The equivalent of the Start menu is there, but where are all applications. Well, it is backwards from Windows, go to the very right side of the tool part and next to the thing that looks like a highway strip is the Applications directory. You can use it just like Start/All Programs on Windows, but you don't see everything, there is a massive list that you scroll by putting the mouse on the down arrow at the bottom

h4. Where the heck is the Control Panel?

Like Windows, all the really interesting configurations are in what is called Settings, but where the heck is it? Ok, go to the Applications and go all the way down to System Preferences which is the Mac Control Panel.

h4. How do i get a right click?

Apple loves the single click mouse, but two changes and you can right click. First the Apple mighty mouse is actually a two button mouse even though you don't see two buttoms. Pressing to the right of the trackball on the top is the right click. Click on Keyboard & Mouse in the System Preferences and click on Mouse. You will see a picture of a mouse on the right button, it defaults to Primary Button. Change that to Secondary Button and now when you right click, it works just like Windows. Wahoo

h4. How do I right click on my MacBook?

Well, nearly everyone is really buying a Macbook and it only has a single button, but Mac has a way to still get double click. Just go back to that Keyboard & Mouse and click on Trackpad. Select Two Fingers/Secondary click. Now when you tap with one finger you get the left mouse click and when tap with two fingers you get right click. BTW, their nomenclature of primary and secondary click is kinda wierd. Windows know that as left click and right click. (As an aside, turn on all various clicks, I normally do and you'll love it. If instead of tapping with two fingers, you hold them down, then you can scroll all over the screen. The tutorial built into this page is pretty neat. I personally can't live with out Drag Lock, which means when you tap and keep holding, you can then move your finger and it drags what you've selected around. When you lift your finger, it releases it. Cool!

h4. Stuffing Control Panel onto the Start menu.

You will be setting lots of control panel things, so you can actually leave the little control panel on the tool bar. Just right click on the tool bar (or double tap if you've got a MacBook) and you will see a menu that includes the words _Keep in Dock_ this means that when you close the application, it will stay on the dock bar so you can click to get it

h4. Where are my files?

The Mac organizes files completely differently. There is the equivalent of My Documents, but it works differently because in Windows My Documents is well everything you will create, whereas there are sort of two My Documents on the Mac, there is your username and there is /username/My Documents and applications put things in random places. To find things, start the Finder which is the leftmost icon on the dock and just like the Windows Explorer, it has this confusing section called Places, but you can't tell what is a shortcut and what is a real link. To summarize the differences:

table{empty-cells: show; border: solid}.
|_. OS X Name |_. In filesystem |_. Windows Name |_. In filesystem |
{border: solid}. | _Username_ | /Users/_Username_ | _doesn't have one_ | c:\documents and settings\_username_ |
{border: solid}. | Desktop | /Users/_Username_/Desktop | _doesn't have one_ | c:\documents and settings\_username_\Desktop |
| Documents | /Users/_Username_/Documents | My Documents | c:\documents and settings\_username_\My Documents |
| Downloads | /Users/_Username_/Download | _no name_ | c:\documents and settings\_username_\My Documents\ |
| Pictures | /Users/_Username_/Pictures | My Pictures | c:\documents and settings\_username_\My Documents\My Pictures |
| Movies | /Users/_Username_/Movies | My Movies | c:\documents and settings\_username_\My Documents\My Movies |

So you can see the confusion. Many of the Windows things don't have name you can refer to them and they all live inside c:\documents and settings, but the only thing visible in the filesystem to ordinary users is My Documents. In contrast on the Mac, you can in effect see everything by looking at the _username_ directory. If you user name is Rich, then you see the desktop as /Users/Rich/Desktop and it has all the files shoved there. If you go to finder, and click on Places and your user name, you will see a folder called Desktop. So Mac is more transparent.

The confusing thing though is that My Pictures and My Music on the PC are inside My Documents, but on the mac, they are not, they are instead at the next level up, so if you go to Documents as many Windows user will, you will not find everyone of your files. No, you go to _Username_ for that.

Finally, when you save a file with Internet Explorer, it just dumps it either onto the Desktop or into My Documents, with Safari, it dumps it into a special directory in /Users/_username_ called Download and it is also on the Dock on the right. That's confusing as you save something with Safari and it looks like it has disappeared. It isn't on the Desktop nor in Documents which is where the Windows user expects things. So if you lose a file, it is probably at the top level or your _username_.
h4. Why is my computer slow?

No Windows user can live without knowing where the task manager is and figuring out what is slow. The Mac isn't perfect and many times, you want to find out what is going on.

h4. Where the heck is everything?

Unlike Windows, you don't have to search aimlessly in programs for an application. In fact, there is a much easier way to get anything. It is called Spotlight and is in the very upper right of your screen and looks like a tiny magnifying glass. Click on it and you get a text box. If you want to find say, the "Disk Utility" quickly, type disk and then press enter and you will start the application. It finds any document etc and unlike the various Windows XP utilities is keystroke fast.

h4. How do I kill an application?

Mac applications hang just like Windows applications. Every Windows user knows about Task manager and killing from there. How do you do it with Mac. Well, first you have to figure out what is hanging. The equivalent of Task Manager is called Activity Monitor. Easiest way to find it is to go to Spotlight at the upper right and type its name and press enter when you see it. this is also the application that lets you kill things by clicking on the process and pressing Quit Process. In the Mac there is no distinction between Program and Process like in Windows, so you just have one screen to deal with.

h4. What if the Finder hangs? Or a program won't go away.

We all know that the Windows Explorer can hang with an hour glass and there is nothing to do about it (well, if you are a power user on Windows you know you can solve this by going to Task Manager and killing the explorer.exe process, but I digress). With Mac, you go to the Apple menu at the upper left and select Force Quit, Force Quit is the rude form of killing and is usually pretty fatal. You'll see a list of current applications running and you can terminate. If you are getting an hourglass, then you can Force Quit Finder and this automatically relaunches which is great!

h4. How do I chkdsk and defrag?

In a word, you can't defrag so you don't need to do that and chkdsk uses something called Disk Utility. Find this by going to spotlight in the upper right and typing in disk Utility. You will see your hardward disk and then below it the friendly name you've given it (this is technically the hardware drive and the formatted disk). Click on the formatted disk and you can choose Repair Disk to do a chkdsk /f or Repair Permissions which just fixes permissions.

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